Thursday, 6 April 2017

Ahead of the game

Frogs have already laid their eggs in the ponds in Zinal
Spring has definitely arrived early this year. The swallows and martins flew in at least 3 weeks ago and up in Zinal the frogs have filled the little pond with spawn, the willows are in full flower and the Plats de la Lee has virtually no snow on it
Pussy willow in full flower
It's been about 4 weeks since we were cross country skiing here

Friday, 17 March 2017

One fine day

It's been a week of blue sky and warm spring weather but the forecast says it's changing at the weekend. So today we headed up to the Cabane d'Arpitettaz for lunch out on the terrace. After a 1200m climb a cheese sandwich never tasted so good. The view up to the glacier is amazing, as was the spring snow we found on the ski back down. PK

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Where the river runs through

The gorge at the end of the 'Plats'
The southern end of the 'Plats' flood plain is blocked by a wall of rock -while the footpath climbs up and over, the Navisence river has cut down through it, forming a narrow gorge. This steep gorge is impassable in summer due to high water levels, but at this time of year you can climb across the exposed boulders and work your way up gorge. It's a wild mysterious place - especially today with the swirling mist and low cloud. PK

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Tele-marking time

You don't need much snow to have knee deep powder.
After some promising snow in November, we had virtually nothing in December. In fact, it was the third driest month recorded in the last 150 years, and the level 4 hazard was for fire not avalanche. However, there was enough cold for the resort to make snow and so, as we waited for the season to really begin, we took up our telemark skis and started to practice.

Last April we decided to give tele-marking a go, and spent four days with Nicko of Telemark Tracks ( over in Val d'Isere. (You can read how we got on in the follow feature in the Financial Times )

When conditions require you to stay on the groomed stuff, this is certainly one way to not get bored with the piste. We've moved from blues to red and (with a bit of fresh snow) to some gentle off piste. More practice required but things are slowly getting better - as are the snow conditions. PK

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


View from the kitchen sink
From our kitchen window we get a fabulous view of the steep, rocky, NW face of the Besso - this evening it had a rosy alpenglow, against a clear sky scattered with a few early stars. At 3667m it's not the highest mountain in the valley, but it's perhaps the most distinctive.  The two peaks gave it its name - 'Besso' meaning double or twin in the old local patois.

It was probably first climbed in the 1860's by two local guides via a route not seen from the house. The 'standard' route to the summit starts from the Grand Mountet hut, and goes up the rocky, and at times exposed, SE ridge. The view from the top should be amazing but for now I'm happy with my view from the window...  PK
Views and colours of the NW face of the Besso
From the ski domain it looks quite tiny - seen in the centre of the picture

Friday, 14 October 2016

New route to Lac d'Arpitettaz

After a snowy day the sun came out and we just had to go for a walk. It's been a while since we've done this route and we found quite a few changes. 

Across the Plat de la Le and up the first section everything was covered in an inch or two of fresh snow - not enough to completely cover the autumn colours, but it gave it a certain something.
Walking up from the Plat to the bridge
Reaching the upper level, we came to a new bridge spanning the Navisence. Since a storm in August 2013 washed away much of the river bank, (including the original bridge), several temporary bridges have been used to span the multiple streams and rocky floodplain, but these too were vulnerable to flooding. Now that's changed as this new wooden structure is built up on solid concrete footings.

New bridge spans the Navisence
Once over on the east side we found the path has been re routed. The new way, freshly carved into the turf, heads south to pass close above the cascade, before climbing up to the cross and enclosures at Le Chiesso.
The new path goes above the Cascade de la Volermo
Continuing on up to the Lac, there was another surprise - two shepherd's huts with solar panels had been dropped in for the season. Designed by three carpenters from Diablerets these high tech, mini pods are light enough for a helicopter to lift up to the high 'alpages', giving shepherds a more comfortable night under the stars.  PK
Temporary shepherd's huts by Lac d'Arpitetta
You can read more about this project on

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The 'high' way from Zinal to Petit Mountet in early autumn.

Fresh snow on the mountains are golden autumn colours
A real gem of a walk and at this time of year the colours are jewel like - sapphire blue sky, emerald ferns and ruby red leaves of the myrtile bushes - and to think autumn has hardly begun. A real contrast to the last time I wrote about this route which was in July when there was still snow to cross and the pink alpenrose was in bloom.
A wonderful traverse with fabulous mountain views
It's a real favourite and by using the cable car there's hardly any climbing. You just stroll south across the mountain on a long traverse which slowly descends via the Cabane Petit Mountet to Le Pla and back to Zinal village. For nearly half the walk you are over 2400m and the views to the east are unbeatable, plus at this time of year we were the only people up there.    PK

Descending to the Cabane Petit Mountet